This book proposes a new way to conceive of scientific literacy, as it has emerged from two research agendas that the authors have been pursuing independently but which have converged conceptually. This book presents a new and entirely different perspective than previous books on scientific literacy in that it valorizes the capacities of human beings to participate in worldly affairs and to change their life contexts. The book is important because it portrays a positive perspective, one that embodies the capacity of all human beings (independently of knowing that scientists think that protons and neutrons constitute the atomic nucleus) to use science both as a contested field and as tool in order to change the world. For example, the youth in Chapter 4 who transform an empty inner-city lot from an area for dealers and pushers to a community garden, or the seventh-grade students in Chapter 7, who generate knowledge that is subsequently being used by environmentalists that work in and transform their community.
Therefore it is the authors hope that students welcome the opportunity to study and participate in science education, not in the hope of becoming scientists, but for participating in public affairs where science plays a part.
"In a series of detailed and personal case studies from around the world, Wolff-Michael Roth and Angela Barton show what happens if we rethink what we mean by 'science literacy.' This rethinking, which focuses on how real people use scientific knowledge in their daily lives, has profound implications for education and for society at large. The authors draw on a wide range of disciplines, reflecting current debates in politics, sociology, philosophy of science, education, and other fields--as well as the literature of native peoples, modern poetry, and a host of other sources. Scholars, policy-makers, and citizens will be responding to this book for many years."
-Bruce V. Lewenstein, Associate Professor of Science Communication, Cornell University
"Two of the world's leading scholars in science education combine to produce a book that takes a fresh look at scientific literacy. The book encourages researchers, teacher educators, and policy makers to set aside deficit perspectives on teachers and students and to connect formal science curricula to funds of knowledge that are developed in fields away from classrooms. This book invites us to examine science education in relation to social justice and identify hegemonies that create and maintain success and failure along the borders of race, ethnicity, and class."
-Kenneth Tobin, Distinguished Professor of Urban Education, City University of New York